Louisville community organizations at risk of losing funds amid budget shortfalls

In a virtual public hearing, several community organizations implored Louisville Metro Council members to reinstate grant funding for external agencies.
Updated: May. 8, 2020 at 12:23 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - In a virtual public hearing Thursday, several community organizations implored Louisville Metro Council members to reinstate grant funding for external agencies.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a loss of city tax revenue lead to several proposed budget cuts. Those cuts have impacted external agencies like Volunteers of America (VOA) which serves the city’s homeless population. During the public hearing, CEO Jennifer Hancock said without local government funding VOA would be forced to shutter some housing programs.

“Our family stabilization program is facing a cut of over $65,000 dollars representing nearly 25 percent of our budget and our eviction prevention program which provides early intervention to keep Louisville families housed will be unlikely to continue operating at all because it has been completely eliminated in our proposed budget,” Hancock said. “As you review the very serious budget crisis that our city is facing we simply ask you to remain focused on investment, on preserving programs based on the cost and benefit to our city.”

Home affordability was also top of mind for the Metropolitan Housing Coalition (MHC), an non-profit that facilitates “research-based advocacy” for fair housing. On Thursday, executive director Cathy Hinko called housing inequity a matter of life and death. Hinko asked that the council “do better” to improve community health but did not ask for grant funding.

“As far as MHC goes, first we need to address the housing crisis that is on its way. MHC is working to study what happens when the moratoria on utility shut offs, eviction procedures and foreclosures end,” Hinko said. “We can absorb the cut in this budget but we ask for something else. We ask for a long term plan by all civic leaders to create the housing we need.”

Representatives from youth development organizations also at risk of losing funding implored the council Thursday. Peace Education Program executive director Eileen Blanton called her organization’s peer mediation work essential.

“It’s essential for decreasing violence and increasing conflict resolutions skills in our city during the time when the homicide rate among our youth is outstanding,” Blanton said. “We have had a 17 per cent decrease in discipline related office referrals where peer mediation is instituted.”

The St. George’s Scholar Institute which serves students in the California neighborhood will be stretched thin without external agency funding according to executive director Arthur Cox. During the public hearing, he said the institute already struggles to put on after school programs and provide meals for students.

“We do all of this on a skeleton budget, we can not afford after 17 to years to be left out of this budget,” Cox said.

Representatives from the Louisville Story Program, Harbor House of Louisville and the Community Theatre Program also asked council members for support during the public hearing.

“I understand how much pressure Metro Council is under with the budget this year, and I’m not here to ask for additional dollars,” said Commonwealth Theatre Program managing director Alison Huff. “Funding directly supports programming for some of Louisville’s most vulnerable youth. These are not frill programs, these are absolutely core essentials.”

Metro Council will hold a second public hearing for the budget on May 13 at 6 p.m. Participants are asked to sign up for the public hearing at the Metro Council clerks office on May 12 from 3 – 4:30 p.m.

Participants can also sign-up by calling the clerks office at (502) 574-3902. Written comments can be contributed on the Metro Council website.

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